Local Pastor's Transforming Pilgrimage

What Cheer – On a recent trip to the Holy Land, local pastor Vincent D. Homan, accompanied by his wife Vicki and traveling companions Barb Coffman and Missy Ingle, discovered as much about his own faith and purpose as he did about the realities of the indigenous people of the Holy Land. Through the experience of unfulfilled expectations and unexpected surprises, the tour transformed into a pilgrimage for Pastor Homan, as he wrote in a journal about the trip.

            Most of the disappointments came from tourist trap situations around the sacred areas, particularly along the path of the Via Dolorosa, which maps out the “Stations of the Cross.”

However, as Homan points, most of the rude behavior was in fact the result of the crowding and shoving of other tourists, not the locals who inhabit the area. In fact, Homan frequently comments on the graciousness and humility of the local residents he encountered in his journal.

As he hoped for, Homan did experience several “God moments” on the trip, but not when he anticipated, and often not when he expected them. 

The chance to participate in Communion among the “Living Stones” is an experience that changed Pastor Homan. Rather than the touristy chaos that surrounded the “dead stones” these Palestine Christians considered themselves the “Living Stones” and after spending time worshipping with them, Homan agreed. 

“This was a transformative day for me. The past few days made me rethink my purpose in the Holy Land. We worked with and got to know some of the indigenous people in the West Bank; primarily Palestinian Christians. They call themselves the Living Stones. I sometimes think that Christians in America view the Israelis as their extended faith family. But most of our brothers and sisters are in the West Bank. The church is in Palestine. Palestinian Christians say Westerners come to the Holy Land to see the sites; the Dead Stones. But they rarely take the time to see or to know the Living Stones. 1 Peter 2:5 says that we Christians are like living stones, built up into a spiritual house. I loved visiting the holy sites; the dead stones. But I am most grateful to have also known some Living Stones,” Homan writes. 

The path of Homan’s Pilgrimage started from Nazareth to Cana of Galilee, the site of Jesus’ first miracle, where He turned water into wine at a wedding feast. The next stop brought the reality of the lives of local residents sharply into focus when the group visited the Mars Elias Institution and sat in on classes with the students. 

For more on this story and others, catch the February 20 edition of the News-Review.